Are you responsible for marketing a website or a brand online? Whether you own your own business, a network of websites or you’re a marketing professional in charge of branding, it’s critical that you consistently evolve your approach to acquiring new business. While it’s long been recognized that traditional forms of advertising – newspapers, television, the Yellow Pages – are dying a slow death it may come as a surprise that many forms of online advertising are producing less than stellar results for many that use them. While advertising will always be a major tool to get your message out in front of those in your target demographics, the old school format of “one-way push communication” isn’t working as well anymore. Customers want to communicate with brands, to be engaged with them and to feel that they are part of something instead of simply being blasted by thousands of ads each day.

Let’s take a look at ten reasons why modern businesses need to place a focus on drawing in potential new customers and engaging with them to ensure they become loyal to your brand.

Customer Acquisition Isn’t What It Used to Be8026429950_89fae377ff_z

Advertising is Becoming Ever More Costly – The transition from traditional advertising to online advertising has created an interesting paradox. While the cost to reach individuals has dropped dramatically, the competition and “noise” levels have risen significantly as well. While you might think you’re getting a great deal spending $2 to reach 1,000 users on Facebook Ads compared to the $20 per 1000 readers of a newspaper, you’ll likely need to spend quite a bit on online ads regardless.

Your Product or Service Has to ‘Matter’ – While in the past a business could get away with selling low-quality or boring material to the public, those days are long gone. The advent of online reviews and apps like Yelp have ensured that no matter what you sell, your product or service has to be meaningful in some way if you want to draw in new business.

Your Customers Will Tell You Where You’re Going Wrong – If there’s one thing that all businesses can use it’s a steady stream of customer feedback with instructions on how to better serve their needs. Take every opportunity to listen to your customers and then show them that you’re taking their feedback seriously. Write the occasional blog post highlighting a suggestion and then demonstrate how you implemented it into your business in order to improve your products.

Encouraging Your Customers to Spread the Word

Leverage Facebook Engagement – Whether you’re a fan of social media or not, Facebook Fan Pages are a very powerful engagement tool that should be used by every business – especially those who market to consumers. Every piece of content that you post on your Fan Page can be shared by your fans, spreading your reach and drawing in new business.

Think LinkedIn for B2B – If you have more of a business-to-business focus, you’ll want to spend a bit more time on LinkedIn. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to create a custom page for your business, share blog posts and other pieces of content and engage with those who follow your brand. LinkedIn’s ad platform is also a great way to drive potential new clients to your LinkedIn pages as the demographic targeting is very strong.

Visual Business? Instagram and Pinterest – If you operate a business in a visual-heavy niche like retail fashion or home furniture you’ll want to leverage the power of photo-sharing social networks like Instagram and Pinterest as well. Ensure that you use high-resolution images that look great on retina displays as most users will access these networks from a mobile phone.

User-Generated Content Will Drive Traffic and Sales

Build a Two-Way Dialogue – Using a comment system like Disqus on your website and blog is an excellent way to get a dialogue going with your clients. Note that a system like this will need to be somewhat “policed” to ensure that spam isn’t polluting the conversation. If you’re up for it, try posting about some sort of recent controversial topic on your blog and encourage healthy debate. It can keep users coming back to your website and also encourage sharing.

Collect Reviews and Testimonials – Whether you run an online retail shop or have an “offline” business that offers some type of service, you’ll want to set aside an area of your website where you can collect and post customer reviews and testimonials. Consider offering some sort of incentive or coupon for those who leave a review.

Help Clients Collaborate – If you sell some software, apps or some form of online services it’s a great idea to set up an area where your clients can collaborate with and learn from each other in real time. Chat services, Google+ Hangouts and Skype Groups are an excellent way to allow clients to teach each other and experience a greater level of engagement.

Build an Online Forum – Similar to chat services, an online forum is an excellent tool to allow your clients and users to generate content that is helpful to the community at large. It can be a bit of a struggle to “seed” your forum with enough content that it will attract your customers regularly, so consider running contests for the best post about how to use one of your services or something similar to get things started.

Summing It Up: Build Brand Evangelists

To sum things up, the goal of your online marketing efforts should be to target potential new customers with the goal of inviting them in to join your community. Avoid spending endless amounts of time and money shotgun-blasting ads out; instead, focus on content that engages visitors, drawing them in and getting them interested in your products and services.

Here at Riverbed Marketing it’s our goal to ensure that when it comes inbound marketing and online advertising your brand and websites stand out from the rest of your competition. Contact us today at 1.855.858.7500 for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your online marketing strategy and we’ll be happy to share our advice and expertise.